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CROSS-DRESSING PRIEST WITH COLOURFUL HISTORY.

THE skeleton of a fourth century cross-dressing eunuch was unveiled yesterday.

Archaeologists believe the young man's skeleton, discovered near Catterick, North Yorkshire, was probably that of a ``gallus'' - a priest who castrated himself in honour of the eastern goddess Cybele. It was adorned with women's jewellery.

The find is described in ``Cataractonium: A Roman Town and its Hinterland'', a two-volume monograph launched at the Yorkshire Museum in York.

Senior archaeologist Dr Pete Wilson, who edited the book, said: ``He is the only man wearing this array of jewellery who has ever been found from a late Roman cemetery in Britain.

``In life he would have been regarded as a transvestite and was probably a gallus, one of the followers of the goddess Cybele, who castrated themselves in her honour. The find demonstrates how cosmopolitan the north of England was.''

After their castration the priests would wear jewellery, colourful female robes and turbans or tiaras, and had female hairstyles.

The skeleton was found in a grave at Bainesse, a farm near Catterick.

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TREASURE: Dr Pete Wilson, of English Heritage, with the skull and mask of the Roman priest
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 22, 2002
Words:189
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